Not getting good sleep? Can being more grateful and practicing gratitude help with sleep deprivation? Science says yes!
Though mental health cannot have a one-size-fits-all solution, studies have shown that practicing gratitude can help us sleep better. In an interview for Inc.com, Harvard researcher and author Shawn Achor says, “Something as simple as writing down three things you’re grateful for every day for 21 days in a row significantly increases your level of optimism, and it holds for the next six months. The research is amazing.”
In a study conducted by Indiana University and led by Prathik Kini, 43 participants with anxiety and depression were given a gratitude exercise. Half of the participants had to write a thank you letter to people who they loved for three months. After this period, all 43 participants had to go through brain scans.
It was observed that the participants who had done the gratitude assignment successfully showed more gratitude-related activity in the brain. Also, they felt happier even after two weeks of taking the assignment. This means the assignment was not only profound but also long-lasting in its effects.
The fact that practicing gratitude makes you more joyful has been established, but how does it help you with sleep? In another study, psychologists Robert Emmons and Michael McCullough made people with neuromuscular issues list down things they are grateful for every night before bed for three weeks. At the end of this exercise, the participants reported good sleep both in terms of quality as well as quality.
Here are a few things you can do in order to let gratitude into life for better sleep.
- Make gratitude journaling a nighttime ritual.
Every night before you score some zzzs, take out your journal and jot down at least three things that you are grateful for. This helps in two ways. One, you are practicing gratitude and ending your day on a good note. Two, you are staying away from electronic devices, and thus avoiding their blue night which is known to hamper sleep by delaying it.
- Every week call someone up and thank them.
Make a list of people you love and whose presence you cherish the most. Now every week, give one person on that list a call and have a chat with them. Tell them how beautiful they make your life and how grateful you are to have them. Bringing a smile to someone else’s face, especially someone you care for, ought to make you happy too.
- Send out a letter once a month.
Those you admire but are not friends with, send them an email to tell them how grateful you are for all the inspiration that they have given you. Once every month send out a letter to your idols because they make your life beautiful without even knowing you.
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